La La Land has stunned critics as it has broken records at the Golden Globes with 7 wins, been placed in many Best of 2016 lists and is being highly tipped by the industry for being an Oscar win for Best Picture. Our own Christopher Cross has also gave it a 10/10 with his review from the Toronto Film Festival! However, is it really that good? Are the critics actually correct? Absolutely.
Set in the city of dreams, Los Angeles, this movies captures the wonder of Hollywood and the desperate race to become successful. Mia, played by Emma Stone, is a struggling actress for years who is trying to chase her dream of being a noteworthy star. Ryan Gosling as Sebastian is a jazz musician who is finding it tough to find a job within the irrelevant jazz scene of the modern age. Both play off together beautifully in a very classic way as they tap dance, sing, and meaningfully fall in love. It’s not your average chick flick and it’s not a typical Oscar chasing film that is trying to be superficial. You really believe in their chemistry as they both find their similarities and figure out their differences. As a result, they both learn off each other and grow as people because of their relationship that honestly is the most natural I have seen on screen. The writing is outstanding as you could imagine that each line can be said by people in Los Angeles and not a script writer; nothing came across as out of place or cliché in a genre that can easily take you out of a movie.
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are amazing in this movie. Their timing is perfect, their conversations look and sound right rather than contrived, and they awkwardly but realistically act out a relationship that is growing like when two people are at a cinema or are late for a date. Plus, you can sense their emotions and nothing feels out of place. You know how frustrated they are during an argument, the pain they are going through when they fail an audition or have to get something done for money rather than a passion, and the joy on their faces when they succeed.
The cinematography will likely bring joy to many as well. A highway of dancers excellently choreographed and shot shows the eccentric side of Los Angeles during its opening, the dream sequences between Gosling and Stone are stunning with its Parisian fantasy art style, and the director, Damien Chazelle, makes Los Angeles look stunning with the colors and locales presented onscreen. The blend between real life and the fantastical in this movie transitions in such a smooth way as well.
The music by Justin Hurwitz, is incredibly charming. The opening number, Another Day of Sun, is infectiously catchy with its toe-tapping jazzy score and cheerful piano melody. The theme of the song carries through the film with the delightful track, Someone in the Crowd and other themes in the soundtrack. City of Stars, which won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes, has been repeating in my head; I’ve hummed the song to my workouts. It’s a song that resonates with the struggle of actors and others in life as they try to reach their goals within a city of “stars.” Another stand out from La La Land is when Gosling and Stone tap dance like the old movies; it’s a great reminder for those who love that era, but it also helps further establish their characters’ relationship as they both have an appreciation for the old.
If you are a fan of classic cinema or like a great love story, La La Land is a movie you should check out. It’s not overrated, and it deserves the praise throughout this awards season. As someone who has just visited Los Angeles for the first time over the Summer, I am yearning to go back because of this movie (hopefully during E3).